I'd like to hear more about this from you and others.
Spun off from Micro-Managed at the GigThis message has been edited. Last edited by: ST,
Hi again Roy,
I keep reinventing myself too. Part of this is because I just get weary of who I am after awhile, and part of this is getting weary of the audience that appreciates who am I (after awhile).
Then there is a natural ebb and flow of what people are willing to travel to hear. I guess that speaks to "Part of my problem is the age group I play for. They don't go out as often or stay out as late as they use to."
About the ebb and flow
Around here a few years back you could toss a stone in any direction on any night of the week and hit a blues bar full of people. I don't have the strength to hurl a stone far enough to hit one these days. I did a guest set a couple of weeks ago at a blues bar some 30 miles from my place. This was at one of the few places anywhere near here where that genre is thriving and drawing a full house. I had a great time, but I am not going out of my way to try to get a gig there.
They don't go out as often
I think that peoples' need for entertainment (or diversion) is just as great as it has ever been, but it's easier to find diversion without travelling. I don't remember exactly what I was doing with all my time before the internet, but I think I was going out more, and definitely playing more music. So what can we do to compete with all that other entertainment? I guess we have to try harder to be something that you can't get at home.
They don't stay out as late
More and more of my gigs are starting earlier and earlier. I'm not complaining about that except that I prefer to travel at night because it's cooler. I certainly don't mind getting home before 12:30 am, although there have been recent changes to the liquor licences lately. Licensed Bars and restaurants can be open until 3:00 am (previously 1:00 am).
This has led to places running multiple shows in sequence in an evening. I know that's not new generally, but there is more of that here lately than there used to be. I might have to get used to staying out late again. At least it won't be because it takes 90 minutes to tear down and load out.
Also - in my area, there has be a recent change to driving laws and we have the strictest rules and lowest limits on blood alcohol and driving, of anywhere in the country. This has had a huge impact on the entertainment business. For better or for worse, people aren't coming out to licensed establishments unless they know that they are willing to hang around long enough to process the alcohol.
So how is any of this relevant?
The audience of my demographic peers is not coming out as often or staying as late. So I am no longer playing for my demographic peers. I'm glad when they are there when they show up, but I am choosing to set my sights on different demographic slice. I used to joke about learning songs that were written in the last 20 years, and then within the millenium, and finally getting into writing and performing my own material. In another thread I mentioned that in one duo we play about 20% original material. In my solo shows I'm aiming for a much higher percentage with a goal of being able to do all originals.
I am seeing an appetite among younger people for homegrown music. I still perform in places where I am ignored by most, but I find that it is the younger ones who are likely to listen to an original tune.
Getting Out There
Until the last few years, I only went out at night if I had a gig. Lately, I've been getting out to singer/songwriter open stage events. This has been a good way to try out new material and to observe what is catching the attention of audiences that would otherwise be foreign to me. I'm not attempting to conform to what I observe. I am looking for ways to find myself within it.
By getting out there I am finding what works for me in my new target audience and I am developing a new following and gigs as a result.
Just to get some Bose content in here: It's great to be able to travel light, set-up/tear-down so quickly, have such a minimal impact on the enviroment of the venue, AND to be heard so well that people actually remark on the lyrics and the music.
So other than learning a new instrument (not an option for me - I can barely play what I've got), what are you guys doing? Are you reinventing yourself or doing something else?This message has been edited. Last edited by: ST,
I am an entertainer (singer-guitarist) who also happens to be a serious songwriter. I wish that there were a multitude of venues in my area that were conducive to original song performances. This would be a place where people would really listen, i.e. the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Quite simply, in my geographic location, that's not the case.
Thankfully; I'm an entertainer first and I want the audience to experience my performance as such. In terms of attracting gigs, the most successful performers (in my area), are not the ones who charge the least, but the ones who can pull off a multi-genre catalog of cover songs and is capable of moving folks up and out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. I've experienced that success and they almost always oblige me and listen more closely when I announce that I'm about to perform an original.
But to the point...I cannot understand why any person in charge of a venue would not applaud that. And although I am sensitive to volume concerns, I wish that the people who contract "live" entertainers would think about the fact that if you try to control a "live" performer like a radio with volume knobs, the "live" experience is somehow forfeited. I think that why the backing track performers are so successful---because while they themselves are "live", it's so easy to adjust the volume of the backing tracks.
Finally; while I love and welcome requests, because it helps me to gage what the audience wants to hear, I do not at all appreciate a venue or events manager demanding that I perform only the songs that he or she approves. If you like what I do; fine. Hire me and get out of my way and let me do what I do best----read and entertain your patrons/guests. I don't want you to hire me and I do not want to play for you or your patrons if you don't like what I do. And don't hire me and try to mold me into the shape of your own personal jukebox.
There; I feel so much better now!
The demographics for the venues that we play can be summarized in two categories:
In the first we have the responsible - mostly well to do - mostly family types who like to blow off a little steam with their friends on a Friday or Saturday night - for a little while.
In the second group - there are the true drunks.
The first group has stuff to do the next morning and they are not interested in doing that stuff hungover. These folks are leaving the bar between 11 and 1130 and are in bed by midnight.
The second group - may have stuff to do the next morning - but they don't mind living their lives with more chaos swirling at every turn. These folks will close down the bar and hang out in the parking lot - daring the police to follow them home.
We tailor our shows to provide entertainment to both demographics. We front load the first sets with some newer stuff - and stuff that our fan base suggested via our Facebook page. We make the first set last as long as our bladders can stand it - to put off the post first set exodus that often is a result of the first group remembering that they have stuff to do the next day. We try to tease the first group into staying for the second set by having something new or some crowd favorite coming up. Sometimes that works.
We cater to the true drunks by putting a lot of the rowdy standard BS in the last part of the show.
Cover bands rule the range in East TN. Original acts do not make any money - unless they travel (7777 - all those original acts in Nashville play for tips only - all the way up and down Broadway - I've been told. They drive to Knoxville if they want a paying gig. There are a couple of bars around here that hire them). Near as I can tell - there is no real interest in Blues or Jazz around town.
I go listen to cover bands myself. I rarely stay out past 11 or 1130. I have stuff to do the next day - and I am not interested in a DUI or being hungover. I do try to spend some money in each place that has live music. I guess that puts me in the first group.
I've only been doing this circuit for around a year now. It will probably get old eventually - or the cycle will shift. It will be interesting to see if I have the energy to shift with the market - or if I just find something else to occupy my time.
AKA John O'Neil
Lead Vocals/R. Guitar for nine 8 central
PRS Series EG2
Ovation Custom Balladeer 1612
Electra X960 Ultima
Blue enCore 300 Condenser Mic
Love this subject. After 59 years of playing in too many bands to remember I feel that I now and going back to where it all began for me. I simply love the "Standards". I am getting older and mellowing out. My age group is the chew and screw crowd. They eat and leave. A GB gig is usually a private function where everyone knows everyone. If they dance too long their pacemakers will burn out. Sooo.....I have decided to hang it up folks. I am all done. My playing from now on will be for my own beloved standards while bring back my memories of years past. Goodbye all and good luck.
The Curtain Falls
Music in neither new or old......it just "is"
At turning 50 (which I know is still young to some here) I have totally reinvented myself. I've lost 40+ pounds and am exercising regularly, I'm not playing the "selling my soul" type of gigs, and I'm writing and recording my own songs. I've created a better online presence and am creating an audience that I hope will support me through house concerts and digital downloads. I figure if I don't do it now, then I never will. As long as I am creating I am contented, so I hope to continue to do this. So that's how I'm reinventing myself.
[edited for clarity]This message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom Munch,
It sounds like you have reinvented yourself the way a sculptor chips away at the stone to reveal the sculture within it.
I'm applauding - can you hear it?
Maybe all those "selling my soul" gigs was part of the process of finding your soul.
Do you remember that discussion from 2006 Why do you play, why do you perform?.
I wonder if our answers to the questions would be different today.This message has been edited. Last edited by: ST,
Wow, hi you guys: I wandered in here after a long hiatus, looking for something entirely different and technical, and found a conversation that hits pretty close to home!
What interesting experiences you all are having/choices you are making! Glad to know I'm not the only one! I found something to relate to in all your stories. And ST, I agree about the young people. I have always gotten extra satisfaction when they like my music.
I arrived in the Pacific Northwest just over a year ago, having parted ways with my (much-chronicled here) all female Celtic trio back in Central California. We'd been together 10 years; the parting was hard on many levels, the landing here a bit rough physically and psychologically, though amid splendor (bad Neil Young misquote: "I hit the splendor and I lost my baaand.....").
I soon met fellow trad Irish musicians and became a regular at a couple of serious sessions. I did not, however, meet up with potential bandmates...well, a few with potential, but physical distance, different approaches, etc. mitigated against bonding. I should say, my specialty is backing Celtic music, especially Irish trad. I have never been drawn to being a melody player, got most of my singing ya-ya's out as a teen folkie, so not really feeling called to play solo.
Okay, the reinvention part: After sitting in a couple times with a fiddler and his not-so-trad guitarist, the guitarist and I hit it off! He is a 40 year veteran of several genres, plays excellent blues & rock as well as composes beautiful melodic stuff--really nice.
So here I am in a nascent guitar-guitar duo, playing some VERY different-for-me music, and singing out of my genre of so many years. For instance, new favorite, "The Maker" by Daniel Lanois. What a pleasure to pick and choose a few cool covers amid the bitchum guitar instrumentals!
We are just piling on new material, booking our first gigs. Haven't even played one yet! But we are so excited about the music. He's got a lovely Stratocaster (and a Paul Reed Smith that I wish he'd play, even more! And a great Martin acoustic. And bass, if we can fit it in. And I've got my trusty Taylor 12 and new Custom GA.
No name yet, half-baked repertoire, torrent of ideas, playing with an electric guitarist for first time ever.... reinvention, no?
Mary - be very careful with this fellow. Anyone who purposefully picks up a Stratocaster when there is a PRS anything sitting right next to it is likely not a very stable individual. I would keep an eye on him.
Kidding aside - I love your story. Best of wishes to you and your new act. Let us know what name you decide to use.
AKA John O'Neil
Lead Vocals/R. Guitar for nine 8 central
PRS Series EG2
Ovation Custom Balladeer 1612
Electra X960 Ultima
Blue enCore 300 Condenser Mic
Thanks, John! I think Gil's just protective of the PRS... The Strat's pretty darn fine, though. I have loved and cherished my very fine guitars, and dragged them all over kingdom come for gigs. I figure... they are instruments, let's play em!
I really enjoyed the descriptions here of audiences... always a question... and what gigs pay. Pay here is shockingly less than I'm used to, but then I'm new and need to get out there and get known, so.... I shall be very interested to see what we can do.
And it's been great to set up my Model II again. We'll be using it for both of us, so I'm hoping a second T1 is in our future. Oh, and second B1. Why not.
As to names...hmmmm. I've read some very funny duo names on the web. "Dumb and Dumber" and "I'm With Stupid" made me laugh the most.
I am delighted to see you here. I don't want to derail this train of thought so let me invite you over to What are you saving it for?
I went back and reread my post there. I'm not sure what my response is today. I'm not as mystical about it now somehow. I think I have a very strong drive to play and perform that also is the reason I'm reinventing myself. I know if I didn't have this I wouldn't be playing still. I read recently that the founding fathers of the US believed that music realigned the psyche to the forces of the earth, and that is most definitely part of it for me. Reinventing is part of that desire and purpose, and it is a refinement of the process that is about seeking a better and more meaningful way to perform music. Creating an audience is a way to make music in a very pure way once the audience and the space are in place. At least that's my hope.
And thank you for the kind comments. It feels good now.
[edited to restore link to quote and for clarity]This message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom Munch,
|Research & Development|
(Hi there, ST! Hi Ken!) Tom, your post inspired me to go look at the 2006 thread. Very interesting. Everybody had a piece of the great puzzle to add, and, like you say, there's a drive to play, and a connection between performer and audience that's irreplaceable. Also, like Col. Cliff so succinctly put it, "I play because I'm a musician." But I realized I've been cogitating over 'playing' vs. 'performing'.
As I got here and experienced bandlessness/giglessness, I really had to question whether I was going to try to play professionally anymore. A certain tidiness of mental process, here, and being a homegirl with just one long band identity dominating my psyche, no doubt drove the question (lest I say lack of imagination!). My new friends here, all dedicated students of traditional Irish music--far more than moi--gave me a few talkings-to about the virtues of just playing in local sessions and contradances. "This is what this music was made for!" they said, it's about community. In contrast to my long years of sweating out interesting arrangements, well-balanced set lists for paid performance.
So I knuckled down and seriously worked on my session skills (one guitarist to many melodists in these parts--it's the law!) and joined a very fine contradance band (four melodists, bodhran, et moi--The Wharf Rats!), and saw that these things are indeed very special. And it is wonderful to be part of the community.
But it's not the same as performing. I'm always performing a bit at the sessions and occasional dances, and I like it when people come into the session room at the pub and listen! And clap, and say nice things. But I missed the hard work of arrangement, long hours of getting it just so, to share with an audience. And get paid pretty well sometimes! That, too. I confess!
So I share that inner drive to perform, and all it entails. Too, I just gotta see if I still got it!
Added note: I didn't mean to veer back to the older topic, but I think it holds clues to "Why reinvention?"This message has been edited. Last edited by: MBanshee,
This is cool - I think veteran players that lean toward original music are coming into their own now - If you need to work to earn a living in music then you will probably have to bend a bit - I have found great power in being true to myself. At the grand age of 45 I see plenty of spring chickens filling the niche (and filling it very well)of playing tunes people "know". But at the end of the day - if you are really an artist, all you have to offer is yourself and if its any good you will find your audience and blossom into what you should be. You just might not work as much or make as much as the entertainer types who do such a wonderful job seling booze. I have found that saying no to venues that don't appeal to me has left me open and available for venues that do - you are where you put yourself. If its good stuff you will get to where you want to be - you have to find yourself and then have the courage be yourself. I walked into a nice restaurant last summer and someone was covering one of my tunes. That gave me a boost to take the above advice!
That would have to be the coolest thing, having your own tune covered! Nice post. Very affirming!
Good points, Edpas! I've been booked for a less-than-optimal gig before and had to pass up a much better gig that came along.
Also, when I've heard someone cover one of my tunes it kinda freaked me out. It's hard to give up your "children" to the big world out there, but it was gratifying too, as you said.
I also find myself playing and singing in a new way and for new reasons of late. Sat, I'll be singing for The Compassionate Friends event here in Frankfort KY - as I did for their Christmas candle light service... songs in rememberence for parents who have lost children ( of all ages ) . I wrote a song just for them and have found others to play that will fit in the mood - the mood of healing, of dealing with the unimaginable pain and sharring that burden with others who have 'been there' . Tho I have not lost a child myself, I tapped into the loss of father and sister ( in the same year) to at least glimps the depth of these folks' emotion.
I find myself, at least temporaraly, in a small company of musicians who play for this sort of audiance all the time. What an interesting and intence nich.
off to pack my system -
Thanks for all the thoughts and insights here -
Michael ( FocusPlayer )
dang... where's the spell check? oops.
Well, great stuff. I've been on the run lately and unable to read much here or elsewhere. This all stems from reinventing myself in a major way; I just retired from my 30 year day job as Captain of Detectives in Newport, RI. That experience could fill a book. The prejudices and unfair assertions made in some corners about a career as honorable as policing are shocking to me. THAT experience taught me an awful lot.
But during my career, I never held to the belief that I was a 'cop' and 'cop-only'. A guitar player as a kid, I took up the banjo in my late-twenties and began to play in a bluegrass band. I then picked up dobro and began that. I eventually launched a solo career (is gigging at weddings, functions and bars a career?) and returned to guitar. I recently started playing ukulele and Irish tenor banjo (4 string vs the 5 string bluegrass banjo).
Now in my fifties, I'm pretty satisfied that I pushed the envelope and didn't settle for my day job career only. In the early days, some of the cops looked at me like I had two heads when they discovered my secret musician life. A lot of them now look at me and say, "Wow, I wish I'd have pursued something like that instead of just working at the job and nothing else."
I've been married over thirty years, have two kids and five grandchildren. But I'm more into playing music than any time in my life. And music has ALWAYS been there in my life...a constant soundtrack to all I've been through. It's all been great and this forum is definitely a piece of the musical puzzle I've been building.
To be honest, I think I've been reinventing myself all of my life and I hope to die doing the same thing...taking on the next challenge that God allows me to take on. Maybe down the road they'll be staring at the ninety-year old guy in the nursing home trying to learn accordian...
Congratulations on reinventing yourself - both recently and all along the way. You exhibited extraordinary wisdom to stay in-tune with yourself through the years.
I'm glad that you are on the run. It sounds like a great run with lots left to go.
Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope that you will continue to drop in and tell us about where you are on the journey.
I consider it a privilege to have met you in Ashland a few years back - that was a treat.
I wish you well in your travels.
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